Thursday, September 24

Oyster Factory (2015) by Kazuhiro Soda

In the Japanese town of Ushimado, the shortage of labor is a serious problem due to its population's rapid decline. Traditionally, oyster shucking has been a job for local men and women, but for a few years now, some of the factories have had to use foreigners in order to keep functioning. Hirano oyster factory has never employed any outsiders but finally decides to bring in two workers from China. Faced with demographic challenges of an aging and declining population, the town has to accept reality to survive.

About the director: 

Kazuhiro Soda is an award-winning filmmaker known for his observational method of documentary filmmaking. Inspired by the long career of Frederick Wiseman, he has examined a wide range of topics including mental illness (in Mental, 2008, winner of Best Documentary Award at the Busan IFF and the Dubai IFF), political campaigning in Japan (in Campaign, 2007) which won a Peabody Award), contemporary theater (in Theater 1 and 2, 2009), and the University of Michigan football stadium (in The Big House, 2018). Soda’s recent film Seishin Zero (a continuation of themes in Mental, 2018) screened in competition at the Berlinale and will tour the US in the near future. 
Soda is also the author of seven books published in Japan and taught at the University of Michigan as a visiting professor from 2016-2017. In 2018, he discussed his Ten Commandments of Documentary Filmmaking with students at Pitt. 



Friday, September 25 **Honorable Mention Screening**

book-paper-scissors (2019) by Nanako Hirose

A 75-year-old Japanese book designer Nobuyoshi Kikuchi has devoted his life to designing over 15,000 books. The book designer’s job is not only to come up with  the outstanding jacket of a book, but also to carefully choose the papers and the fonts, and layout them to create the unique physical book. Each design is inspired by the text in the books, and none of them are the same. Through thelens, we find not only the beauty of fabrication but also the crisis of physical book’s existence. The director Nanako Hirose, who is an apprentice of Hirokazu Kore-eda, has filmed Mr. Kikuchi for over 3 years to make this film. Nanako hopes that  the audience goes to a bookstore after watching this film, and touch and reconnect with books by his or her own hands. This is a film for all the book lovers out there in the world.

About the director: 

Born in Kanagawa in 1987, Nanako Hirose graduated from Musashino art University, before joining Hirokazu Kore-eda’s production company Bunbuku in 2011.  Nanako began her career as an assistant on Kore-eda’s film Like Father, Like Son (2013), and

she also contributed to Going My Home (2012), Our Little Sister (2015) and After the Storm (2016). Nanako has also provided support to Miwa Nishikawa as a directorial assistant in her latest film The Long Excuse (2016) Ms. Hirose made her directorial debut in 2019 with His Lost Name, a film which she also wrote the original script. The film tells the story of a young man who has a secret and a pseudo parent-and-child relationship with the owner of a carpentry shop. The film premiered at the 23rd Busan  International Film Festival and was awarded a special mention at the 19th TOKYO FILMeX.



Saturday, September 26  **Grand Prize Screening**

An Ant Strikes Back (2020) by Tokachi Tsuchiya

A certain moving company―its employees call it “ant hell”. Forced to work long hours, they remain trapped in debt, having to pay out of their own pocket the cost of any accidents or repairs for which they may be responsible. One 34-year-old man in the sales department takes a stand, singing up with a labor union, even if no one else from the company will join him. This action gets him transferred to working a dusty paper shredder, and soon after given punitive dismissal.

About the director

Born in Kyoto in 1971 and raised by a single mother.Worked as a day laborer at various jobs--newspaper delivery,bookstore clerk, and factory employee. He began working in 1999 and established a film Group in 2001 called Low Position with Iida Motoharu and Tokida Takashi. His first film,A Normal Life,Please(2008),received awards from several International film festivals including the Raindance Film Festival and Dubai International Film festival.His other films include The Aging Degradation (2013)and Secret of KONBINI(2017).